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Question of quantum
8:00am Thursday 16th August 2012 in Letters
Sir – I refer to the article (Business, August 9) regarding population growth. I share the concerns raised. There’s a perception that population growth leads to economic growth but it’s not that simple.
The census confirms that most of the recent, excessive and alarming growth is a result of immigration. We are the third most densely populated country in Europe, beaten only by Malta and the Netherlands.
Excessive immigration stretches our infrastructure, schools, health service, welfare system and increases unemployment. Where does the required funding come from? At a district level, high immigration leads to aggressive housing targets and local authorities receive attractive bonuses from government for every house built, boosting finances. However, is it enough to cover long-term maintenance costs and benefits payments? The developers offer Section 106 packages or community infrastructure levy payments, but the council is lucky if the infrastructure required as a result of the development is itself covered. So who funds wider projects? I welcome diversity but it’s a question of quantum. In past decades when immigration was reasonable, growth was two-three per cent and the economy grew. However, with 7.2 per cent growth in the last decade, we are in economic decline. It’s surely no coincidence that the population of Germany is shrinking, but its economy is the most stable in Europe. We are in danger of losing what makes this country attractive. What will we do with all these houses, when people start looking for the next ‘utopia’ — demolish them, like in Ireland? It’s unsustainable to encourage growth ad infinitum by building more and more new houses.
The Labour Party admitted they got immigration wrong and the Conservatives have pledged to reduce it — I hope they can. The answer is modest, manageable growth in population matched by appropriate infrastructure and services, rather than this alarming, exponential trend.
Justine Garbutt, Alvescot