Wichita Falls city officials are speaking out against two possible wind farms in Clay County – that would be within 25 miles of Sheppard Air Force Base.
Wichita Falls airport officials share concerns of military officials about the impact of proposed new wind farms, and said too much has been invested in both the base and new airport to risk losing them.
“We have an issue and we’re adamantly opposed to windfarms within 25 miles – not only of Wichita Falls, but Corpus Christi – any airport in the United States,” John Burrus, director of aviation, traffic and transportation, said. “We shouldn’t be doing anything to lessen our air traffic control’s ability to manage traffic coming in and out of any airport.”
If the wind farms brought harm or interference to SAFB, city officials said they fear the worst – even the possibility of the base closing or reducing its missions.
“Our biggest economic generator in the region. You might as well turn the lights out in this city. It scares me to no end if that happens,” Burrus said.
And, Burrus said the base makes up about 60 percent of the passengers who use Wichita Falls Regional Airport.
“My biggest concern is after the city has invested millions of dollars in improving not only the airport terminal facilities but the runway, the taxi way, parking facilities – is that any detriment to Sheppard’s mission? …. Is going to likely reduce the number of military personnel using the airport,” Burrus said.
“And if in fact, a wind project is incompatible or creates hazards or creates a lack of mission capability for the base, that they wouldn’t proceed with the project,” Jeff Clark, The Wind Coalition Executive Director, said.
But, despite that answer from a man representing the wind farms, Wichita Falls officials said communication with the wind farm companies has been poor – something they hope will improve.
Burrus also said if there is a reduction in the passenger load out of the airport, then that would hurt any progress being made in trying to get additional commercial air carriers to come to Wichita Falls.
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