Perthshire is growing, and we are going to have to adjust to being one of the most dynamic parts of the country for inward migration.
The population of Perth and Kinross rose by 11% over the decade to 2011 and now stands at 149,521. This is the fastest population growth in Scotland and demonstrates that Perthshire remains a desirable place to stay. To give some regional perspective, for the same period, Dundee’s population growth was 0.1%.
We are growing so quickly because of the high quality of life we enjoy and because there is convenient access to major population centres throughout Scotland. As we often say, from Perth, you are within minutes in some of the most dramatic scenery in the country and within an hour you are in reach of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
But Perthshire people know that we live in one of the most beautiful places in Scotland and I think it will come as no surprise that other people want to come here to live.
Perthshire, of course, is at the top end of a rise in population throughout Scotland. Up until a few years ago there was a fear that Scotland’s population could fall below the iconic five million mark for the first time since the mid 20th century. But our population growth is still tentative and it is feared that the long term trend may once again be downwards. We also have an ageing population and looking to the future we will have more and more inactive people relying on an ever smaller economically active work force.
It has primarily been Eastern European migration that has fuelled Scotland’s population growth, as well as an increase in out birth rate. Immigration, of course, remains a very controversial topic. In England there is a raging debate about curbing immigration. Indeed, the UK Government remains determined to drastically reduce immigration and they have put in place tough and prohibitive immigration rules to address what has become almost an obsession.
In Scotland, we occupy just over a third of the landmass of the UK, but we have 8.4% of the population. We are one of the least populated parts of Western Europe. Yet we are saddled with a UK immigration policy that could have been designed to be as unhelpful as possible to our population and immigration needs.
We need a specific Scottish agency which could serve our immigration priorities, our population necessities and our demographic needs. What we’ve currently got does not meet our needs and is making matters worse.