Sir Keith Thomas and the Barry Incinerator- Column for The Glamorgan Gem

Column in the Glamorgan GEM by Alun Cairns MP:

My last column focussed on the achievements of the ‘Vale’s Finest’ by highlighting their service to the community that were recognised in the Queen’s Honours list.  Again, congratulations to everyone.  I know almost all the recipients and am familiar with their work in the constituency.  Thank you. 

Although he no longer lives locally, I feel that I must pay tribute to one of the Vale’s greatest ever exports, Sir Keith Thomas CHFBAFLSWFRHistS .  The string of honours after his name only underlines his achievements. 

My reason for focussing on Sir Keith is that in the New Year Honours, he was awarded the Companion of Honour.  This award is limited to 65 living people, including Her Majesty.  To receive this honour is extremely rare and the list of 65 includes world famous names.  It is only awarded to those who have made a major contribution in their field that has benefited the country over a long period of time.  It is the highest recognition – and the Vale has one of them!

Sir Keith was born in Wick and is the brother of Tony Thomas, Pancross - one of the Vale’s best know farmers.  Sir Keith’s recognition is for his contribution to our understanding of History.  His service has been also acknowledged by a host of international bodies in the US, Italy and elsewhere. 

He is a great example of a pupil of Barry County Grammar winning a scholarship to go to Oxford.  He graduated from Balliol College in 1955 and went on to a fantastic academic career that has led to scores of publications. 

This story should serve as a great inspiration to young people who are studying for GCSE and A level exams this summer. 

On a separate note, the debate around incineration has made it to the Commons.  I spoke in the debate to highlight the inconsistency of Welsh Government policy.  I recall the Vale Council rejecting the application, only to be over-ruled by the Welsh Government planners.  This was one of the first activities I undertook, when I was first elected almost 10 years ago. 

Since that time, there have been delays at each and every stage and I pay tribute to the DIAG group for their vigilance, persistence and monitoring of the project. 

The latest is that the Welsh Government need to recognise the operation as a Development of National Significance.  It’s hard to believe that there hasn’t been an Environmental Impact Assessment. 

This is an issue that will not go away and the Welsh Government need to review their policy. 

It is all well and good for MPs and AMs to criticise the decisions in the press and at protest marches but the only solution is to change the policy.  Devolution means that my actions in the House of Commons on this will only change the policy for England.  It’s time our AMs supported changes in Cardiff Bay.