POPULATION levels in the Lothians have reached a record high, with Edinburgh seeing the fastest rate of growth for a decade.
The region saw an increase of 12,000 residents – higher than any other area in Scotland last year – to 849,000.
There were 2458 more births than deaths while 8617 people migrated to the region from across the UK and abroad. Edinburgh’s population grew by 9200 and is on course to reach 500,000 for the first time next year.
The city increased in size by nearly two per cent in a single year compared with around 0.6 per cent Scotland-wide, according to the report by the General Register Office for Scotland.
The highest proportion of young people in Scotland was in West Lothian, where 20 per cent of the population is under 16. In contrast Edinburgh had the lowest in Scotland at 15 per cent but a high proportion of young people in their late teens and early 20s.
City leader Andrew Burns said the figures demonstrated the desirability of the Capital as a place to live.
He added: “Population growth in Edinburgh is an indication of how vibrant the city economy is but it brings its own challenges in terms of housing, infrastructure and access to jobs or training.”
The business community regards increases in population, of young people in particular, as bringing a greater talent pool but the move results in challenges elsewhere.
NHS Lothian has carried out studies recently to prepare to cope with more patients.
Dr Joy Tomlinson, deputy director of public health and health policy at the health board, told the Evening News: “Lothian’s population is continuing to grow, which means it is essential that we are able to provide a modern health service equipped to deal with the changes.
“The number of babies born in Lothian remains higher than the Scottish average and that is why we planned ahead, enhanced existing services and created the Birth Centre.
“Many people from the rest of the UK and abroad have arrived in Lothian for work, which also contributes to increased use of our services.”
Nationally, Scotland saw the biggest rise in foreign immigrants last year than at any other time in recent history, pushing the population to a record high.
An estimated 42,300 people, including asylum seekers, came to Scotland from overseas in the year to June last year.
The Scottish Government believeS the working-age population must grow to support public services and the rising number of elderly people.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This year’s net population increase is the highest we have seen for more than 50 years and demonstrates that our hard work to grow Scotland’s population, to support economic growth, is paying off.”