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Call to boost Met Office funding

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MPs have backed calls for increased funding for the Met Office to improve its long-term forecasting to help avoid a repeat of the weather-related disruptions that affected travel insurance policy holders and others last year.

A report by the House of Commons Transport Committee into the impact of the heavy snow and icy conditions in December 2010 said the short-term seasonal forecasts available at the moment "do not provide a firm basis on which decision makers can act with confidence".

It said the extra £10 million sought by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to help Met Office secure computing systems enabling more accurate decade-long predictions would be a worthwhile investment.

The committee's chairman, Louise Ellman MP, 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."

More action is needed to make sure that the country keeps moving even in severe winter weather, Ms Ellman said.

She added: "Every airport operator must now be pushed to plan properly for bad weather so that people are not left stranded and without even basic supplies in airport terminals for days on end."

© Press Association 2011