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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 November 2006, 17:36 GMT
Mountain forecast service storm
Ben Nevis
Plans are on the table to fund the mountain forecast service
A storm is gathering over plans for the future of weather forecasting services in the Scottish mountains.

A free service is currently run from Laurieston in Galloway by a small team of meteorologists.

Plans have now been put forward to fund the service and the Met Office is keen to provide information from Aberdeen.

The current providers have said that risks losing valuable expertise but the Met Office has insisted it is able to cover a wide range of forecasts.

Independent forecaster Geoff Monk has run the web-based Mountain Weather Information Service in Galloway for nearly three years.

What we have now is streets ahead of what we had three to four years ago
Roger Wild
Mountaineering Council of Scotland

He said it had allowed his team to build up a service tailor-made for the needs of climbers.

"What I have tried to do is to try and improve mountain weather forecasts," he said.

"For probably 30 years or so they have been a fairly sort of standard-issue product using long tried and tested rules."

Mr Monk said he had tried to adapt these rules for mountain areas and worked with mountaineers to develop the kind of service they required.

It is work which has met with the approval of the peopple such as the Mountaineering Council of Scotland's safety advisor Roger Wild.

"What we have now is streets ahead of what we had three to four years ago," he said.

That has prompted the mountaineers' group to recommend to the Scottish Executive that it fund a service.

Summit planned

The Met Office has expressed an interest in providing the specialist forecasts and has met with MSPs to discuss the possibility.

Business manager Alan Motion dismissed concerns it might lack the expertise offered by the Laurieston service.

"Obviously we don't recruit weather forecasters specifically as mountaineers," he said.

"At the same time the Met Office delivers forecasts across a wide range of subjects and issues."

Now all the groups involved are due to meet on 8 December to discuss the way forward.

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