Thursday, 24 November 2011

High immigration could drive Britain's population to 77million by 2035

Britain's population could rise by a quarter to more than 77million in just 25 years if high levels of migration continue, according to official estimates released yesterday.

They projected a population of 77.7million by 2035 – nearly 16million more than now – if high immigration continues alongside rapidly rising birthrates and increased life expectancy.

It means that the country would have to find room for an additional 650,000 people – the population of a city the size of Glasgow – every year between now and 2035.
Figures suggest the projected 70million population mark could be hit in Britain far sooner than first predicted

Figures suggest the projected 70million population mark could be hit in Britain far sooner than first predicted

The estimates were released at a time of growing concern over fast-rising population levels and their impact on overcrowded England, which is already the most densely populated country in Europe.

The figures suggest that the 70million population mark – the level at which many believe stresses on housing, transport, education, health, power and water will become too great – could be hit far sooner than the current prediction of 2027.

The new projections were published by the Office for National Statistics.

Last month, the ONS put out ‘principal projections’, which said that the population was set to grow by just under 500,000 a year for the next 25 years, reaching 73.2million from the current 62.2million in 2035.


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Yesterday it published ‘variant population projections’ which ‘are intended as plausible alternatives to the principal assumptions,’ it said. Based on the highest expected immigration, fertility and life expectancy levels, these put numbers in the country at 77,746,000 in 2035, and nearly 95million by 2060.

By that stage Britain would have overtaken Germany as the most populous country in Europe.

If maintained over the following decades, that rate of population increase would mean numbers reaching nearly 137million in 100 years – more than doubling over a century.

Over the past 100 years, the population has grown by around 50 per cent.

The higher projected increase depends heavily on rates of immigration remaining similar to those currently being recorded.

In 2010 net migration – the number of people coming into the country to live minus the number emigrating – was 239,000. New figures released today may show even higher migration rates.

However, the ONS said that if migration is curbed, the population will be much lower.

Yesterday’s analysis said that if net migration is reduced to zero, the population will never reach the 70million landmark.

With zero net migration, but fertility rates and life expectancy continuing to go up according to mainstream expectations, there will be 65,740,000 people in the country in 2035, and this will gradually fall to below 58million in 2110.

The Coalition has pledged to reduce net migration to below 100,000 a year – the levels seen in the 1990s – though some analysts suggest a level of 150,000 a year is manageable.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of think-tank Migration Watch, said: ‘ONS data confirms the shocking fact that the UK population is projected to hit 80million by 2056, overtaking Germany in the process – even though we have far less space. We must get net migration down to below 40,000 to stabilise our population below 70million. Anyone who suggests that net migration of 150,000 will do has simply not looked at the facts.’

n The Downing Street ‘e-petition’ demanding action to prevent the population reaching 70million has been signed by almost 125,000 people.

The campaign, organised by Migration Watch, passed the 100,000 mark in less than one week – meaning MPs can now ask for a backbench debate on what steps are needed to bring immigration under control.

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