lördag 30 september 2006

Is Britain over-populated?

What is the optimum population of Britain? Of Europe?

Brighton is definitely over-populated. There is a limited amount of land and it is almost fully built-up. You could work out what the population should be on the basis of land area and density.

London and the South-east region is probably over-populated. This is apparent from problems such as transport, also the relatively short distances now separating one built-up area from another.

Now look at the map of Britain. Start at Bournemouth, then draw a line to Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Preston, York, Leeds, Norwich, Dover and back to Bournemouth. I think this is between one-third and one-half of the land area of Great Britain. Call this the 'box'

The only substantial conurbations in England outside this box are Tees-side, and Tyne and Wear (Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland), with a combined population of about 2 million. Scotland has a population of just over 5 million, which makes 7 million outside the box. Very few people live outside the conurbations anywhere within the box, thus around 85% of Britain's population is living in about one-third of the land area, and, incidentally, within 150 miles of Oxford.

Yet there is no reason in principle why the Inverness region could not support a city the size of Stockholm, and the area around Fort William a city of perhaps half a million. And of course a lot of the apparent problems of over-population are due primarily to our insistence on using cars and failure to invest in public transport.

It's not overpopulation, it is maldistribution.

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