The land around the Drumheller Municipal Airport on the valley's north rim is becoming a very busy place and that is cause for some concern.
A company called Bit Fury constructed a digital bitcoin 'mine' just east of the airport last fall to take advantage of available electrical power. Now, a company called Aura Power wants to build a 75 megawatt solar farm in the same area.
"There's a few concerns, moreso to do with takeoff and landing, that need to get resolved before everyone says that they're happy with it," reported Drumheller CAO Darryl Drohomerski. "We've asked them to take a look at some options about slightly moving a few of the (solar) panel areas to other parts of the property that they control."
"If you're taking off northbound or if you're coming in from the north, there's a little concern about whether or not there's any issue. If a plane were to land in this field of solar panels, what does that mean? That's a question that they have to come up with an answer on," he outlined.
There was also concern expressed that glare from the panels could distract or even blind a pilot, but Drohomerski said he was assured that is not the case at other airports with nearby solar farms.
"They still have a number of things (to do): they have to get Navigation Canada's approval, Alberta Transportation and Alberta Environment, so they have a lot of work left to do on their end," he noted. "From our perspective, just providing comments and feedback on some of our concerns is going to be the end of our role for the next little while anyway."