Well, as others have pointed out was Dave Cameron & Co waving or drowning at Blackpool this week?
From the environmental perspective the Conservative Party conference has been interesting, with lots of discussion about potential divisions between official policy and the Quality of Life report. It was fascinating to sit on the same panel as Zak Goldsmith, the Co-Chair of the Quality of Life Report and Greg Barker the Shadow Energy Minister. They were obviously doing their very best to ensure that they were singing from the same hymn sheet. However, none-the-less you could sense an interesting set of differences emerging between what is in the Quality of Life report and that which may get proposed as policy for a General Election, which could well be just weeks away.
What was fascinating at our Energy Saving Trust fringe, which saw over 200 people attended, was the quality of the questions from the Conservative audience, compared with – I have to say – those at both the Lib Dem and Labour Conferences. Who would have thought three years ago that we would have been subject to such a wide ranging set of questions on bio diversity, waste, energy, recycling, nuclear? Whatever your thoughts about the outcome of the Quality of Life debate you can’t but feel that it has informed the average Conservative activist in a way that other Party’s have failed to manage. Let’s see what happens next!
Just a rye thought, however, but why oh why does any Party continue to hold its Conference in Blackpool – given its unsustainable credentials? I probably won’t make myself very popular with the citizens of Blackpool, but the venue itself i.e. the Winter Gardens and the transport arrangements in my opinion seem to run a distant third in terms of energy, waste and recycling in comparison to Bournemouth and Brighton. I am not quite sure how you measure the carbon footprint of an entire conference but I am sure that somebody has. If any of you do know then I’d be interested to know just how poor Blackpool is as an environmental venue. I await abuse from the citizens from Blackpool with some trepidation, but also interest – perhaps there are ways in which it could be rectified.
A footnote: It was good to meet with David Cameron on Monday (Oct 1st) and persuade him to think seriously about basic energy matters rather than obsessing about windmills on the roof of his house in Notting Hill. I wait with interest to see what his home energy check delivers. He seemed quite positive about the prospect, so I hope we can make it happen.