By Ian Crouch with Photos by Kerrin Thomas

Protestors have defied a police direction to leave the site of Dart Energy’s pilot coal seam gas project at Fullerton Cove north of Newcastle.

Dozens of protestors are blocking the entrance to the project, preventing work from starting this morning. Police arrived last night, telling residents they would be in breach of the Petroluem Act by preventing the company from accessing the mine site.

Residents want an environmental impact study undertaken amid fears the gas drilling will contaminate ground water, which supplies 80 per cent of drinking water to the Lower Hunter population. There are also concerns the project will destroy sensitive wetlands nearby.

Representatives from Dart Energy say the assessment is not necsessary because the project has already been the subject of intense environmental scrutiny and has recieved the backing of state and federal agencies.

The blockade is now into it’s third day.

Protestors say they will stick it out