Met Office on the hot seat. From the GWPF:
Liverpool Echo, 10 January 2011 by Ian Hernon
A LIVERPOOL MP is set to head a Parliamentary probe into this winter’s transport “fiasco.” Riverside’s Louise Ellman, as chairman of the Transport Select committee, has received official requests to launch a wide-ranging inquiry into why snowfalls up to the Christmas/New Year break crippled the rail and road system. If given the go-ahead it will focus on the coalition government’s alleged failure to respond to Met Office warnings of severe weather.
That led to weeks of turmoil with trains cancelled, motorways shut and thousands of travellers stranded in appalling weather.
Mrs Ellman has circulated complaints to committee members from all major parties and they will decide whether they merit a full-blown investigation.
She said: “The committee has not yet decided on an inquiry but it is certainly being considered.”
The demand for an inquiry was led by the all-party think tank, Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which slammed the failures of both the Government and local authorities to prepare the transport system for the third severe winter in a row.
They said: “Lessons have to be learnt well in advance of the start of next winter so that we are much better prepared.”
The Met Office stated that it warned the Cabinet Office – in charge of emergency planning – in late October that the onset of winter would be “exceptionally cold.”
But their extreme weather warning was kept under wraps by ministers. The Cabinet Office has refused to reveal which, if any, local transport authorities, airports and utility companies were alerted.
GWPF director Benny Peiser said: “Not only is the lack of Government preparedness a cause for concern, but we wonder whether there may have been a reason – that ministers did not want to undermine preparations for the UN climate change conference in Cancun.” In a letter to Mrs Ellman, he said: “This year’s winter fiasco has severely damaged the British economy and our international reputation as a result of ill-preparedness.”
Ewan McCallum, chief metrologist at the Met Office, said an “amber” warning had been sent out as part of forward planning.
See also: GWPF Letter to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee
London, 6 January: The Global Warming Policy Foundation has called on the House of Commons Transport Select Committee to set up a parliamentary inquiry into the winter advice the Government received by the Met Office and the renewed failure of both the Government and local authorities to prepare the UK transport system for the third severe winter in a row.
In a letter to the Chair of the Transport Committee, Louise Ellman, MP, the GWPF stresses that “Lessons have to be learned well in advance of the start of next year’s winter so that we are much better prepared if it is severe again.”