High-tech forecasting and modern communications have improved the Met Office's forecasting capability, which can now be mainly provided from one central location. This enables forecast production to be moved from the other centres - in Birmingham, London, Belfast, Cardiff and Manchester - to Exeter. Aberdeen will continue to provide services to the UK commercial marine community, in particular the oil and gas industry, retaining their forecast production facility.
By restructuring forecast production, the Met Office will be able to deliver improved services to the public and focus on growth for commercial business.
Don Touhig said:
'This solution will ensure that the Met Office continues to provide an excellent service to all of its customers and the country at large, and will retain the vital commercial services that the Aberdeen office offers.
'The consultation period was very extensive, involving lengthy talks with trade unions, customers and MPs. As a result of listening and consulting so extensively, a fifth option came to light. To fully explore it, I decided to extend the consultation period by a month.
'It was this final - or fifth option - that is the best possible solution.'
The Met Office Chief Executive Mark Hutchinson said:
'Investment in the new Exeter Headquarters and associated technology
- such as massive supercomputing power - has considerably improved our forecasting capability in recent years.
'This unique capability combined with huge advances in telecommunications, means that we are able to produce accurate forecasts for any part of the UK from a central location.
'There will continue to be a regional presence, across the UK, provided by account managers and, where required, forecaster advisers.'
The Met Office will now be working with stakeholders, staff and customers to implement the decision and to ensure that the process is carried forward as efficiently as possible and completed by the end of 2006.