Anger at ‘nonsensical’ decision to put Met Office £1.2bn ‘supercomputer’ abroad

A new Met Office “supercomputer” which will make the weather forecast much more accurate may be based abroad.

The £1.2billion machine will ­provide the UK with the most advanced weather predictions it has ever had.

It will be six times more powerful than the current model at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter, which it will replace next year.

But officials are looking to site half of the Government-funded machine, – dubbed the “world’s most powerful climate supercomputer” – in another country.

Labour MP Luke Pollard said he was baffled by the decision.

He added: “The supercomputer is great news, we need the Met Office to have the best technology available. But concerns have been raised to me that not all of the machine will be based in Britain.

“The idea we are spending all of this money for a large part of it to be based overseas is nonsensical when Britain is facing a recession due to the pandemic.

"The priority should be for creating jobs and investment in this country. The Government would need a very compelling case as to why it would not be based here.”

Science minister Amanda Solloway confirmed that at least 50% of the computer would remain in this country, but the rest could be sited abroad.

She said the Met Office had left ­bidders “to propose locations”.

She added that the new supercomputer “will support many hi-tech and skilled jobs through Met Office staff, suppliers and partners, primarily in the South West related to the Met Office Headquarters in Exeter”.

The supercomputer will provide ­advanced local weather forecasts, tell airports which flights to cancel and map the effects of climate change.

It could also provide detailed ­information for the energy sector to prevent energy blackouts and surges.

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