The Gloucester Valley in mid-north New South Wales is bracing for an invasion of protesters over the state's first new coal seam gas project in more than five years.
Opponents of energy company AGL's four-well Waukivory pilot project are already converging on the town for a blockade, which began peacefully this week.
Gloucester Shire Council is considering an application for a primitive camp for more than 1,200 protesters on farm land next to the project site.
A 28-day objection period closed on Thursday and is likely to be approved when the council meets next month.
Deputy Mayor Frank Hooke said the council was worried about the impact of such a camp but it may have no choice but to approve it.
"It's not improperly zoned for that purpose and if we were to reject it they [the proponents] could go to the Land and Environment Court where it would probably be approved," Cr Hooke said.
Already the project has caused bitter division between the shire's 5,000 residents with rival groups established to co-ordinate the opposition campaign or to publicly support the economic development, which would flow from the proposed 330-well project.
Former mayor Julie Lyford heads Gloucester Groundswell, which is calling on opponents of the coal seam gas industry to take a stand in Gloucester.
"We know now that Gloucester is the flashpoint for NSW," Ms Lyford said.
"If fracking of 330 wells goes ahead here than the rest of NSW is up for grabs with the coal seam gas industry.
"We know people are going to come, so we want to be responsible and actually contain that and have a really good camp, a really good blockade situation, so it doesn't get out of hand.
"Because whether the Gloucester people or the NSW Government like it or not, people are going to come because they care enough about water, productive land and the health of people.Protesters do not see the benefits: AGL supporters
A rival group of residents calling itself Advance Gloucester has been actively supporting AGL and the jobs and opportunity which it says come with extractive industries such as mining and coal seam gas.
Dairy farmer Rod Williams said the group comprised of generational farmers, residents and business owners and was concerned that opponents to the CSG project were from out of town or were new residents.
"At the end of the day, the youth of the area deserve every opportunity they can get," Mr Williams said.
"It's one thing to cater for life-stylers and tree-changers, which these areas are magnets for, that's fine.
"[We] don't have a problem with that but if we're going to be held out to ransom by these people that have no social or economic investment in our area, we're sort of scratching our heads and thinking, 'who is driving the bus?'."
AGL has begun earthworks on the Waukivory site.
The company's manager of upstream gas, Mike Moraza, said it would take about eight months before it began hydraulically fracturing or fracking four gas wells.
"We are going to flow gas and water in order to gather data and gather information which is going to help us make a final investment decision for the Gloucester gas project," Mr Moraza said.
He said the project had the potential to supply 20 per cent of the state's gas needs and was likely to "put downward pressure on prices".
In the meantime, he said the company had stepped up security at the site.
"We've got a lot of security on the ground here obviously to look after our staff, to look after our operations and our contractors and we're pretty satisfied with the steps that we've taken."For Sean Murphy's full story watch Landline on ABC TV on Sunday at noon.*