Moray’s population has risen by more than 5,000 during the past decade, and is poised to increase further in the coming years.
Figures published yesterday highlighted a 5.8% spike in the number of people living in the region between 2006 and 2016.
The study follows concerns that Elgin’s roads network will struggle to cope when confronted by significant population growth – with 2,700 new homes planned around the town by 2030.
The expansion of RAF Lossiemouth is also predicted to bring thousands more people into Moray, with an extra 500 personnel due to take up posts at the base by 2020.
Last night, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead described the region’s escalating numbers as a “healthy sign”.
But he admitted more needed to be done to ensure young people were attracted to the area.
Mr Lochhead said: “A growing population is a healthy sign for Moray.
“However, the demographic trends that lie beneath the headline are important, because we need young people to live and work in Moray, leading to job opportunities and the creation of adequate schools and transport infrastructure.”
And the SNP representative suggested that the councillors who gain power at next week’s elections work on plans to handle further population growth.
He added: “The new Moray Council and other agencies will have to build in this population increase to their plans.”
The local authority has already unveiled £30million plans to ease traffic gridlock in Elgin, containing dozens of potential congestion-busting changes to the town’s road network.
The population study, carried out last June, found that Moray had 96,070 residents.
The 5.8% increase was attributed to 3,441 individuals migrating to Moray while the remainder were newborn babies.
The median age in Moray is 44, with 17% of residents being younger than 16, 60% of working age and 22% of pensioner age.
The study also discovered that 788 people living in Moray were older than 90.
Last night, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise development group enthused about Moray’s expanding population at a time when many other areas were experiencing declines.
A spokesman said: “We welcome the continued increases in the region as a whole, notably Highland, Moray and Orkney which have experienced higher than average increases.”
RAF Lossiemouth is poised to expand as the airfield becomes the home of the UK’s new fleet of Poseidon spy planes and welcomes another Typhoon squadron.