Sunday 23 May 2010 | Politics feed


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England is most crowded country in Europe

England has become the most crowded major nation in Europe, official figures have revealed.

England has become the most crowded nation in Europe, with 395 people per square kilometre Photo: PA

The number of people living in England has overtaken the population density of Holland, which has traditionally been the most densely-populated major nation on the continent.

The count, which has been attributed to higher levels of immigration, shows England now has 395 people per square kilometre.

The figures were obtained in a parliamentary answer from the Office of National Statistics.

In 2008 the average number of people per square kilometre in Britain was 253, rising to 395 in England.

Latest figures from Holland show that its population density was 395 a square kilometre in 2002 and 393 in 2005. It is estimated that English population density will rise to 464 people for every square kilometre by 2031.

The population density in England is already almost double the level in Germany and quadruple that in France.

The only country in the European Union with greater crowding is the tiny island of Malta, which only has 400,000 people, most of whom live around the port of Valletta.

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 concerns over diminishing numbers of jobs and pressure on public services.

London aside, the biggest regional rises in population will be in the east of England and in the South West, which in recent years has attracted the greatest number of migrants who provide labour for agriculture, construction and service industries.

Last night MPs campaigning for "balanced migration" said the figures were a milestone in the immigration debate.

Frank Field, the Labour former minister, and Nicholas Soames, the Conservative MP said: "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 that current immigration into Britain is around 300,000 a year, although not all will stay permanently, they calculate that a balanced migration policy would result in a British population of around 65 - 80 million by 2050.

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."

Beyond Europe, England's population density is among the highest in the world for major countries. England ranks third in density after Bangladesh (1,045 per sq km) and South Korea (498 per sq km).

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