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Holger Schou Rasmussen: The Femern Belt project is the biggest growth and development initiative in Lolland

Holger Schou Rasmussen: The Femern Belt project is the biggest growth and development initiative in Lolland

An interview with the Mayor of Lolland, Denmark

Holger Schou Rasmussen was born on 20 April 1965. Before pursuing a career in politics, he first worked in business. In 2002, he was elected to the municipal council, and he became the Mayor of Lolland Municipality in 2014. He has now spoken to TheMayor.EU to discuss the development of the municipality and its current projects.

Mr Mayor, how would you describe the Municipality of Lolland?

Lolland has a lot to offer. It is an area of rapid development, and there are prospects for even more growth in the coming years. This is due in large part to the upcoming fixed link across the Femern Belt, which will create great new opportunities for business, tourism, and the area's residents.

At the same time, Lolland is also known for its beautiful nature, which can offer outdoor experiences for everyone, whether it is on foot, by bike, horse or water. Kayaking, rowing, football, and gymnastics are popular sports in Lolland, and due to our fantastic countryside, the many lakes and the long coastline, there are also plenty of opportunities for horseback riding, fishing, hiking, cycling, sailing and kite surfing. The countryside is an essential part of the area’s identity, with everything from forests and fields to beaches, sea, islands, and large inland lakes.

In addition, Lolland also has charming cities, attractive child-care options, and a rich assortment of leisure activities. We pride ourselves as a large community with a unique culture that stands together to help build a good life.

We also have a broad range of housing options, with anything from a stylish city apartment to a large villa or a charming property close to forests, fields, and beaches. The market is significantly cheaper in Lolland than in the rest of Denmark.

Lolland must have evolved significantly since you assumed office in 2014. In your opinion, how has the municipality progressed during this time and what is your biggest achievement?

The Femern Belt project is, without any doubt, the biggest growth and development initiative in Lolland ever, and it has already had a huge impact on our municipality. As a mayor and as a municipality, it is a big achievement that we have been able to contribute to that success.

However, the Femern construction is not the only initiative underway. I’m also very proud of our achievements in green energy. In fact, the green profile is an integral part of Lolland’s identity. We have a huge focus on the green transition, and we have been a leader in green energy and cleantech for many years.

Every year, we produce significantly more electricity than we consume, and we have succeeded in locating both onshore wind turbines and a solar park in a way that takes advantage of the fact that Lolland is well situated for both solar and wind energy.

In 2019, Lolland was 700% self-sufficient in electricity from wind and solar power; 50% of the heat supply is also covered by renewable energy sources.

As you have mentioned, Lolland is looking forward to the construction of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link connection. Can you expand on this development and its future?

The Femern project is expected to create a huge number of extra jobs in the area. The actual construction work is expected to generate a direct demand for labour of up to 20,000 annual full-time equivalents (FTEs) and the indirect demand is estimated to be 22,000 annual FTEs.

There is, thus, good career prospects in Lolland. There is high demand for labour, many exciting and attractive employment opportunities, and a sound infrastructure that makes commuting in the area quite easy – also for international talents.

We, therefore, expect that many international citizens will move to Lolland in the coming years and the area will develop into a new international hub, locally in Denmark, but at the same time centrally in relation to both Scandinavia and Central Europe. 

In order to cater to that growing international community, we have established Denmark´s first international public school with a unique, free and bilingual school programme, where children from international families can receive a world-class Cambridge certified education.

In addition, Lolland municipality also places a large focus on ensuring that new international residents can quickly settle down and feel at home; to that effect, we offer e.g., introduction meetings, networking events and easy access to information in English.

How has the pandemic impacted your municipality? More specifically, has it forced you to cancel or postpone any important projects?

Lolland Municipality has been subject to the same national restrictions due to COVID-19 as all other municipalities in Denmark. We have done our best to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and take good care of especially the senior citizens in the area.

Fortunately, we have not had any major outbreaks on Lolland and the COVID-19-crisis has not had any serious consequences that we have not been able to deal with.

What are your plans for the future of the city and its recovery from the impact of COVID?

Like everyone else, we look forward to the day where the vaccine programme is fully implemented.

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