Cornwall Council’s ruling Conservative group has seen its majority slashed to just three after a leading councillor resigned following a contentious decision to allow the building of a huge solar farm on agricultural land.

Steve Arthur, who represents Perranporth, said the decision by the council’s strategic planning committee last week to allow the solar farm to be built on 33 fields near Summercourt was the final straw.

He said he was already facing pressure to rejoin the group, “but I’m not coming back”. 

Of his decision to resign, Cllr Arthur added: “I’m a farmer, so to see good farmland covered in solar panels … I’m not against renewables per se but roofs and lower grade land should be used. There’s another planning application for a solar farm coming up – another councillor has said he is going to leave if it goes through. He’s written to Linda [Taylor, leader of the Tory group and Cornwall Council leader] and she knew I would go too if this application was approved.”

He added: “Today’s energy crisis is tomorrow’s food crisis.”

Cllr Arthur said he also had problems with other decisions made by the council and its Tory cabinet in recent months. 

Cllr Arthur, who has never claimed expenses, has discovered he has now been taken off all the committees he sat on. “They’ll be pleased there’s a thorn out of their side on the audit committee.”

He stressed that he couldn’t fault any other councillors, no matter which party they represented, as he believed they all have the best interests of Cornwall at heart.