MPs call for more Met Office funds

MPs have called for extra funding to help the Met Office improve its long-term forecasting in order to cut down on travel disruption caused by winter weather.

A report by MPs into last December's snow disruption said the current seasonal predictions "do not provide a firm basis on which decision makers can act with confidence".

The cost to the economy of the disruption seen last December to the transport network was estimated to be around £280 million per day and the committee reported transport secretary Philip Hammond has said the additional computing power needed by the Met Office to provide more accurate decade-long forecasts would cost £10 million.

Louise Ellman MP, the committee's chairman, said: "Ministers must look again at the resources available to the Met Office.

"Given the huge cost of winter weather disruption to the economy - some £280 million per day in transport disruption alone - the £10 million suggested by Mr Hammond would be a small price to pay to improve the Met Office's long-range forecasting capability."

The committee called for extra investment targeted on those parts of the travel network which have shown themselves to be least resilient to bad weather;

The MPs also recommended better online advice about tackling problems arising from severe winter weather.

Another suggestion was for a high profile campaign to increase the proportion of motorists taking precautions for driving in winter weather.

Mrs Ellman said: "The strategic salt arrangement introduced a year ago clearly kept many main roads open last December. The Highways Agency and police forces must however work to manage blockages on the strategic road network more pro-actively, making greater use of roadside and in-car information systems to warn motorists about poor conditions and disruption."

The Highways Agency said: "We agree more can be done to give road users information when and where they need it and we are already looking at ways in which we can achieve this, particularly for those caught up in disruption on the roads."

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