The Impact of Immigration on Traffic Growth and Congestion in England

May 18, 2011

Britain’s transport infrastructure, already one of the most congested in Europe, is set to become even more crowded in the next 25 years as a result of immigration. For the same reason the cost to business and other road users of traffic congestion on England’s roads will be £5 billion higher each year by 2025, says a new report, ‘Migration and Road Transport in England’(Briefing Paper No {232}) out today from think - tank Migrationwatch.

At its current rate the UK population is projected to increase by around 10 million between 2008 and 2033, with around seven million of that total due to immigration. Out of this number four million will be aged 17 or over by 2033, perhaps adding nearly three million to the driving population of the UK. ‘If the Government fails to substantially reduce immigration levels, England can expect unprecedented traffic congestion as economic growth continues and the population soars to the highest level in its history.’ said Sir Andrew Green, Migrationwatch chairman.

‘Our report once again shows that for most people the abnormally high immigration levels experienced during the Labour years is not just about whether or not immigration adds a fraction of a percentage point to GDP,’ he said. ‘For them it is about the often unsettling and uncomfortable consequences of mass immigration on the everyday quality of their lives. Just one of these is their ability to travel for work and leisure in tolerable conditions.’

Sir Andrew said that continued immigration at the current level was likely to see traffic on England’s roads increase by 28 billion vehicle kms, accounting for over 15 per cent of forecast traffic growth over the next 25 years. The report says that congestion on the UK’s transport networks compares badly with networks elsewhere in Europe, and its road network in particular is regarded as being the most congested in the EU.

Recent estimates of the costs of road traffic congestion in the UK range up to £20 billion a year. By far the worst road traffic congestion is in London, which is projected to receive, by a substantial margin, the most immigrants over the next 25 years. According to the Department of Transport more than 40 % of traffic in London can expect to be in very congested conditions.

‘The Eddington review of transport in the UK, published in 2006, estimated that, without action to mitigate it, congestion on England’s roads could cost an additional £23 – 24 billion each year by 2025,’ said Sir Andrew. ‘Up to £5 billion of this could be due to the impact that immigration will have on traffic growth. Congestion is a real cost to business in the UK, undermining competitiveness and productivity, contributing to climate change and damaging the quality of life’.

He said it was very clear that the vast majority of the population, including immigrants themselves, were totally opposed to the current levels and many of the consequences that flow from it.

‘We welcome the Government’s commitment to substantially reducing immigration into the UK and our report shows just why, in one area alone, it is vital that they succeed,’ said Sir Andrew.

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