England will have to make room for 10million extra people in less than 25 years’ time, official figures predicted yesterday.
The population is expected to top 60million by 2030—as many as live in the whole of the UK now.
The rise is equivalent to a city the size of London, or the populations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put together.
Most of the new residents will be immigrants, who are already adding 191,000 a year to the population, according to current Government figures.
Their children are also likely to form a large part of the surge, as birthrates among newly-arrived groups are higher than among the existing population.
The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, brought further warnings from critics of large-scale immigration.
Sir Andrew Green of the Migrationwatch think- tank said: ‘Some 70 per cent of this population increase will be a result of immigration. This is clearly unsustainable from the point of view of public services and infrastructure, and, even more importantly, from the point of view of the cohesion of society.’
The projections are based on population and immigration estimates from 2006, which put the number of people living in England that year at 50,763,000.
The ONS says that figure is likely to pass the 55million mark in 2017, and by 2031 England will be home to 60,432,000.
The biggest rises in that period are expected to be in the South-East (nearly 1.6million more residents), the East (gaining 1.4million) and the capital (1.3million more Londoners).
Other regions will be less popular with immigrants and less subject to population pressures, the figures say. The North-East is expected to take little more than 200,000 extra people.
The statistics are the latest to suggest that Whitehall expects recent very high population increases to continue in the coming decades.
Last month, ONS figures said the population has risen by a million in just three years—a faster rate than when today’s big cities took shape at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.
Some Government-sponsored projections put the UK population as high as 100million by the end of this century.
The new arrivals will add to a growing housing crisis, with the Government struggling to meet existing demand for homes.
Its latest proposals to build a series of ‘eco- towns’ have already provoked protests from MPs and those alarmed that massive estates are going to spring up on their doorsteps.
The Department for Communities and Local Government says that a third of the number of new homes that need to be built are needed to house immigrants.
When this estimate is updated shortly, it is expected to say that at least 38 per cent of new homes will be built for immigrants.