Cut population by a third, say crowded Britons
By Steve Doughty
The Daily Mail
Last updated at 10:43 PM on 13th July 2009
One in four Britons would like to see the population reduced by up to a third to ease overcrowding.
A survey has revealed deep anxiety about pressure on the environment and the impact
of migrants on public services and social cohesion.
Nearly seven out of ten adults believe the best way to curb population growth is to cut immigration, the poll showed.
More than half of Britons believe rising immigration is having a dramatic effect on life in the UK (file photo)
The findings, gathered in a YouGov survey for the environmental pressure group Optimum Population Trust, suggest there is widespread unhappiness over official projections that the population will rise to 70million in the next 20 years.
The number of British citizens has grown by around two million in the past decade.
The exact figure is unknown because of the difficulties in precisely measuring immigration. This has brought the population to around 61million.
Immigration minister Phil Woolas has promised that the Government will not allow numbers to reach 70million, a pledge that has provoked mockery from political opponents.
Yesterdays poll showed that the greatest support for cutting population levels was found in regions where immigration has been the highest.
In London, where one in three of the population was born abroad, 54 per cent think there should be fewer people.
In the East of England, 49 per cent support a lower population and 48 per cent support it in the South.
The survey, which questioned 2,000 people, found that 24 per cent want the population to be between 40million and 50million, and 51 per cent would like numbers brought below 60million.
In Scotland, where recent levels of immigration have been minimal, only 22 per cent want the population reduced.
According to the poll, three quarters thought over-population was responsible for transport congestion and two thirds blamed it for lack of affordable housing or environmental degradation.
A total of 53 per cent thought that too many people meant a lower quality of life.
Reducing immigration was the most popular method of lowering numbers, and was supported by 69 per cent.
Many of those questioned believed that people should take the environment into account when deciding family size.
Some 34 per cent said couples should think about having no more than two children.
Eight per cent favoured having only one child and 7 per cent said couples should consider having no children. A total of 49 per cent supported two children or fewer.
A three-child maximum was favoured by 13 per cent, but 14 per cent said couples should have as many children as they liked.
Roger Martin, of the Optimum Population Trust, said: The poll clearly demonstrates widespread concern about the environmental damage caused by population growth and widespread support for measures to limit it.
The unequivocal nature of these findings makes the silence on population policy on the part of politicians and environmental groups even more astonishing.
The political parties and the green movement need to realise that the public can sustain a mature debate on population.
Sir Andrew Green, of the MigrationWatch UK think-tank, said neither Labour nor the Conservatives would prevent the population increasing to 70million by 2029 with their present policies.
The main parties talk tough on immigration, but they are trying to con the British public, he added.
According to Government figures, we can expect almost another ten million people in
England in 20 years time of which seven million will be due to immigration equivalent to seven cities the size of Birmingham.