It's official – England is the MOST crowded country in Europe, thanks to immigration
By Steve Doughty
The Mail ONLINE
Last updated at 11:27 AM on 16th September 2008
England has become the most crowded major country in Europe, official figures show.
The number of people crammed in has overtaken those in Holland, long the most densely-populated major nation on the continent.
A count released to MPs showed England now has 395 people per square kilometre.
Crowding has increased because of high immigration into England while the Dutch population has fallen or remained steady.
Last night MPs who are campaigning for 'balanced migration' said the figures were a milestone in the immigration debate.
Beyond Europe, England's population density is among the highest in the world. Of countries with a population of at least 10million, England ranks third in density after Bangladesh (1,045 per sq km) and South Korea (498 per sq km).
The English figures were in a Commons written answer from National Statistician Karen Dunnell.
Miss Dunnell said that in 2008 the number of people in every square kilometre in Britain was 253 with 395 in England. Latest figures from Holland show that its population density was 395 a square kilometre in 2002 and 393 in 2005.
The only country in the European Union with greater crowding is Malta. The Mediterranean island is a special case because it has only 400,000 people, most of whom live around the port of Valletta.
Increasing crowding in England is largely concentrated in the South and East, where in recent years the greatest number of migrants have headed to provide labour for agriculture, construction and service industries.
Official projections say the population will become even more concentrated in the future.
(THE EU's TOP TEN GRAPHIC)
Miss Dunnell's department, the Office for National Statistics, has estimated that English population density will rise to 464 people for every square kilometre by 2031.
The new estimates were made public just a week after an unprecedented alliance of all-party public figures called for balanced migration.
The campaigners, led by Labour former minister Frank Field and Tory MP Nicholas Soames, have called for the number of foreigners allowed to settle in the country to be held at around the same level as the number who leave.
The two MPs said yesterday: 'The Government have now been obliged to recognise that England is projected to catch up with Holland this year as the most crowded country in Europe.
'This is a milestone in the immigration debate as immigration accounts for 70 per cent of our population growth.
'The Government's points-based system places no limit on the number of people who are allowed to settle in the UK. If ever there was a case for balanced migration, it is now.'
The campaigners estimate current immigration into Britain at around 300,000 a year – although not all will stay permanently – and calculate that a balanced migration policy would result in a British population of around 65million by 2050. Current Government policies would mean a British population of nearly 80 million by then.
England has taken its position as the most crowded country in Europe at a point when the risk of economic recession has led to growing concern over diminishing numbers of jobs and pressure on public services.
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency, the organisation set up by the Home Office to tighten immigration by admitting only those with skills, said: 'Our tough new points system plus our plans for newcomers to earn their citizenship will reduce overall numbers of economic migrants coming to Britain, and the numbers awarded permanent settlement.'