Environment Agency (EA) chief Lord Smith of Finsbury says Britain cannot afford to defend its coastline and must expect losses to the sea in the coming years.
The former Cabinet minister told the Independent that the east and south coasts are particularly vulnerable to coastal erosion and that prioritising has to take place.
"We are almost certainly not going to be able to defend absolutely every bit of coast ? it would simply be an impossible task both in financial terms and engineering terms," he said.
The EA is drawing up projections of where coastal erosion will have the greatest impact for the next 25, 50 and 100 years.
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