Hillgoers rely on accurate weather forecasts. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Hillgoers rely on accurate weather forecasts. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

An independent weather forecasting service at the centre of a storm over its future said its finances have been secured.

Geoff Monk of the Mountain Weather Information Service said there had been a misunderstanding over continuing funding beyond 2016.

Mr Monk said at the weekend the Galloway-based service would have to end in December because its annual £36,000 grant from sportscotland was due to end.

But this evening, the Scottish Government agency and MWIS issued a joint statement. It said: “Following discussions between sportscotland and the Mountain Weather Information Service, both organisations have provided reassurances that the current forecasting service will be maintained.

“sportscotland has been working in partnership with MWIS since 2007 to provide critical mountain weather forecasting, which has been a valued service for people who use Scotland’s hills and mountains.

“An agreement has been reached whereby sportscotland will continue the same levels of investment into MWIS to enable them to sustain current forecast provision throughout a development period which will result in a sustainable, long-term and enhanced service.”

sportscotland said it has invested £150,000 in MWIS over the past four-year cycle and has agreed to continue with the same level of investment throughout the development phase for a minimum of three years.

Mr Monk, lead forecaster at MWIS, said: “It is great news that we have reached this agreement and I’m pleased sportscotland is to continue investing in MWIS at the same financial level as in previous years.

“There was a misunderstanding about investment beyond 2016 and now we have a resolution to cover the development phase before a sustainable, long-term service is up and running.

“We can focus on continuing to provide a quality service to help people enjoy the mountains safely and we look forward to working with sportscotland to support the development plans.”

Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland said: “sportscotland has consistently maintained that we would guarantee the continuation of a high-quality mountain weather forecasting service and that is precisely what has been delivered.

“I’m delighted that we will continue to work in partnership by investing in MWIS for a minimum period of three years throughout the development phase while we plan for a sustainable and enhanced service for the long-term.

“In the coming months, we look forward to working with a wider stakeholder group, including the Met Office, MWIS, Mountaineering Scotland and the outdoor community, which engaged in our 2015 survey about developing an enhanced service.

“The outcome we are all working towards during the development phase is a sustainable mountain forecast service for Scotland through the provision of reliable, authoritative forecasts which informs good decision-making on the mountains.

“We recognise how highly valued MWIS is by the outdoor community and we want to help deliver the continuation of a high-quality mountain weather forecasting service.”

Mr Monk said the MWIS team was incredibly grateful for the level of support, feedback and input that it had received from forecast users in the past few days.

Aileen Campbell, minister for public health and sport, added: “I am pleased a resolution has been reached that allows the high quality service provided by MWIS to continue and the reassurance this will give to those who rely on it when enjoying Scotland’s wild landscapes.

“I am also pleased that the wider view and consideration of those with a passion and interest in outdoor sports will be reflected and harnessed as we work towards creating a long term and sustainable mountain forecast service for Scotland.

“I look forward to working with that group and engaging with the progress in this important national service for Scotland.”

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