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Is Britain Overcrowded?

Britain's rail network is just one service that will need to be ready to meet the demands of a growing population Photo: ITV / Tonight

Welcome to Britain in 2013 where the population is booming. There are 63 million people living here today and that number is rising by 1,000 people every day. Some experts predict there could be as many as 80 million of us living here by 2050.

Women are having more babies, we have a high level of migration into Britain and people are living longer, factors which, according to the latest census, have all combined to create the biggest rise in the population of England and Wales since records began in 1801.

Another new arrival at Birmingham City Hospital Credit: ITV / Tonight

A baby is being born every 40 seconds in Britain today and at one of the country's busiest hospitals, Birmingham City Hospital, Consultant Midwife Kathryn Gutteridge has witnessed a 14 per cent increase in births in the last twelve months. She says she is not sure how big the rise in births will be in the future: "We don't know whether we are getting a tsunami or just a big wave on the beach."

But whatever the rise will be City Hospital aims to be ready for it.

Yet the NHS is under growing strain due to the rising number of people living here and a boom in the number of people living longer. We are also suffering from a shortage of housing and school places as well as growing traffic congestion.

As the population rises, more school places will be needed for our children Credit: ITV / Tonight

The country is already facing a housing crisis with two million people on housing and homes waiting lists. We need more school places. By 2020 we will need another eight hundred thousand school places in England.

Traffic levels are due to rise considerably in the next twenty five years putting our road network under pressure and causing further congestion. Our rail network is already at full capacity and it is getting busier and our three largest London airports are expected to be at full capacity by 2030.

Britain's rail network is at full capacity Credit: ITV / Tonight

So how will Britain cope with the rise in population? Some experts are at odds about what it will mean for the country.

I think we have a choice now where we really take action to slow down our population growth or not. If we do I think we can keep Britain more or less as it is. If we don't we are going to lose our parks and our gardens."

– Simon Ross, Population Matters

Britain could quite easily cope with 80 million people if we get policy and planning right. I think Britain 2050 could look like a society where we have more people but actually because we have solved some of these problems of transport and housing our daily lives are much smoother and more efficient than they are now."

– Jonathan Portes, National Institute of Economic and Social Research

Tonight: Is Britain Overcrowded? is on ITV1 at 7.30pm