Planning pressure shows need for population planning
March 28th 2012
The controversy over the announced changes to the planning framework is just one example of the difficult choices increasing forced upon the UK by an ever rising population in an already overcrowded island, itself just one example of the global problem of population growth. The UK government should urgently consider establishing a population council, as advocated by the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, to address population growth and seek ways of reducing it and of mitigating its impact.
England is Europe’s most densely populated large country, alongside Holland, and has one of the highest population densities of any sizable country. Yet its population is growing at its fastest rate for fifty years and accounts for fully one third of all European population growth. A combination of increasing longevity, a rising birth rate and historically high net migration means that the population is projected to rise by ten million over the next 25 years.
All these extra people have to live somewhere, and Britain already has gross residential overcrowding and a long waiting list for social housing. The results of population growth are evident in other areas, too: a shortage of primary school places; traffic congestion and transport overcrowding; significant air pollution, especially in London; and the greater impact of low rainfall. Global population growth is also making its effect felt, in rising fuel, energy and food prices and of course in climate change
The recent comments of CEDA’s Chief Executive, Professor the Hon Stephen Martin, on Australia therefore hold some resonance for us in the UK. These included:
"Public unease with the population debate is often centred around government policy or planning failures, from inadequate service provision to poor infrastructure planning and that is why our nation's leaders must not shy away from a robust discussion on our future demography and its implications for public policy."
"How we manage population change will ultimately impact on the living standards of all Australians, especially the liveability of our cities and our access to services," he said.
- The Federal Government should establish an Australian Population Council (APC), to coordinate government service delivery nationally in response to population changes. The APC should be responsible for annual projections of demographic change for the purpose of ensuring smooth State and Federal Government service delivery. In particular, the focus should be on the areas of infrastructure delivery (roads and community infrastructure), education and health requirements.
- The Federal Government should supplement the Intergenerational Report, which examines the ramifications of an ageing population, with a Future Generation Report, which examines the participation, education and training solutions that could mitigate the negative elements of Australia's current age structure. For example, proposing ways of ensuring longer workforce participation.
Commented Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters “This report echoes the longstanding recommendation of Population Matters that the government should assign responsibility for population as an issue to a nominated minister so that there is the basis for developing a co-ordinated and planned approach rather than simply responding to rising numbers and assuming them as a given. We welcome the commitment of the current government to reduce net migration but note that this commitment has had limited effect on numbers so far. We also welcome the reduction in the recent budget in the number entitled to automatic child benefit but believe that more needs to be done to reduce subsidies for those with large families who do not require financial support. “
Does size matter?
New CEDA report calls for discussion on the complex issues around population
- Population growth causes planning pressure
- Rising numbers put pressure on school capacity
- Population pressure and biodiversity
- The ‘Housing Crisis’ and proposed new Planning Regulations….not enough homes, or simply too many people? Why ‘getting Britain building again’ is unsustainable
- Population Matters contributes to UK Planning and Biodiversity Inquiry