Speaking today at the third in a regular series of periodic reviews of flood and coastal defence held at MAFF's London headquarters, Mr Gummer said: 'Recent events on the East coast have shown that the protection of life must remain top priority and that we must maintain our investment in coastal defences.
'While the Government's commitment to effective coastal defence remains unchanged, the techniques for putting that commitment into effect are constantly evolving and improving. Greater emphasis is now given to methods which simulate natural features, such as beach replenishment, and so absorb wave energy more efficiently and cost effectively.
'No one technique will hold good in all circumstances and local coastal defence authorities should consider a range of options at each site in consultation with local interests. In some areas, setting back the line of defence may be the most effective coastal defence option and in some cases this might be combined with environmental benefits'.