In 2009, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution announced that it would investigate the environmental implications of demographic change, looking at the next 40 years to 2050. The Commission chose to study this topic because although there may be a growing understanding of the ways in which the UK population is changing – and much thought is already being given to the social and economic implications of these changes – it seemed that little attention had so far been paid to their environmental consequences. The Commission decided that this was an area in which it could make a useful and timely contribution.
The basic demographic facts are that, since the Population Panel reported in 1973, the population of the UK has grown steadily – from 55.9 million in 1971 to 61.8 million in 2009. This trend is likely to continue: the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published projections suggesting that the population could be 71.6 million in 2033. Within th