Recently the very august Chelsea Society (founded 1927) staged a Green conference and Donnachadh, my ecotects and I were invited to speak. 

Fortunately I was on first which got it over with, then Donnachadh was whisked on and immediately did his party trick of asking for all the unnecessary and dazzling lights to be switched off. 

As usual for these events we were sitting in a large room with the curtains pointlessly drawn and lights blazing.  Everyone cheered at this revolutionary thought, curtains were undrawn and lights turned off.  Free solar power!   

Next up my dashing ecotects strode onto the podium.  There was a collective gasp amongst the ladies in the audience.  Indeed there had not been so much excitement in the town hall since Cary Grant opened the cinema next door in 1934.  As Alex launched into his gripping eco spiel the elderly lady next to me slumped in her seat.  It wasn’t clear if she was in a swoon or she had died, and to my shame I put off investigation as Alex’s power point presentation had me spellbound.  Not all of the ancient attendees were so keen though. 

`YOUNG MAN IF YOU’RE GOING TO WHISPER!’ boomed a crusty Boer war survivor, `USE THE MICROPHONE!’

`He’s just saving energy,’ quipped the chairman, Sir Malcolm Rifkind (told you it was a pucca do). 

But spirits were soon crushed when the leader of the council, Merrick Cockell, proceeded to pour cold water on many of the exciting and commonsense green initiatives the speakers had been outlining to cut the borough’s emissions.

Filling up your kettle half full was a great idea he began, BUT… it was `unrealistic’ to expect people to suddenly switch to low emission light bulbs, (most of Australia would disagree), and putting up solar panels in visible positions would upset our beautiful Chelsea townscape.  But his fears are groundless.  These days solar panels are so well designed they blend beautifully with their surroundings - unlike many of the large and unsightly satellite dishes which are an accepted part of our skyscape and which usually don’t even require planning permission. 

Worst of all, to the despair of local residents, he supports unpopular plans to demolish Holland Park School, sell off many of their desperately needed playing fields and replace them with – luxury housing!  As if Kensington needs more `luxury housing’.  Considered, well thought out plans to refurbish the school and keep the playing fields – the cheapest and greenest option - have the support of the majority of us local residents – but what do we know! 

What a shame David Cameron, who lives in the borough, can’t live up to his supposedly green credentials and demand the sustainable option. 

I have no time for politicians who made vague noises about the importance of climate change and then do precisely nothing to combat it.  Chelsea Town Hall was lit by thousands of light bulbs, the heat blazed and the doors to the street were wide open.  They simply aren’t interested and the only way things will every change is if we individuals seize the iniative ourselves. 

At the end the audience were sunk in gloom, but inspired by the thought of the `cold collation buffet’  waiting for them next door woke up and made a disorderly stampede towards the exit. As we left the hall all the lights were pointlessly switched back on again.

As I write the Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea has taken charge of a new stretch Bentley.  It doesn’t look like David Cameron’s - and my - council will be going green anytime soon….

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