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Population rise down to new homes

There have been increases in population in some unexpected Highland locations, which have been more to do with house building than economic growth.

Meanwhile, people are getting older across the region, according to the census figures.

A report for Highland councillors has highlighted the early results from the 2011 Census that showed an overall population increase of 11.1% to 232,000 from the 2001 figure of 208,914.

There was a large number of people in the 55 to 65 age group, which means the area should see a steady increase of retired people.

The population of urban Inverness and the surrounding area increased by 18%, while the population of small towns had increased by 4%.

In Caithness, the population of Thurso and Wick had declined but there was a significant increase in the surrounding rural areas, largely as a result of new house building helped by the availability of relatively low cost building plots.

Meanwhile, the accepted link between economic activity and population growth was blurred in some areas.

The fishing villages of Kinlochbervie and Lochinver in north-west Sutherland had both seen a decline in the fishing industry since the peak years of the 1980s, yet Lochinver has grown by around 5% and Kinlochbervie has declined by 17%.

The report suggests this may be due the attraction of some west coast areas and communities.

Certainly remoteness has not stopped population growth. Applecross, Shieldaig and Torridon saw a growth of 6%.

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