BACCHUS Marsh landowners say they are preparing for the fight of their lives, as coal seam gas explorers prepare to dig near their homes. In just a few weeks, 15 sites in the area could be dug up as Western Australia-based firm Mantle Mining begins to operate within its brown coal exploration licence. Local resident Kate Tubbs said her neighbours were stunned to learn the law allowed for their properties to be affected by mining.“My home is now known as drill-hole site 15. I don’t know a single local resident who is in favour of the area being dug up, but legally they are allowed to do it,” she said. While Mantle Mining recently advertised plans to begin digging, Ms Tubbs said many local residents were unaware of the project until she contacted them ahead of a public meeting. More than 60 people attended the event, expressing outrage drilling sites were located close to their properties. “The miners do have to provide compensation if they want to mine on our land, but they are allowed to under the law,” Ms Tubbs said.She and her family live on a property which has grain crops and a harness racing stable which she says would both be adversely affected by mining near the front gate or on their land. “My neighbour who is 81 has lived on his property for years — he bought it from his father — and he is worried he will have to leave,” she said. Ms Tubbs said a company representative had attended the first public meeting, but that Mantle managing director Ian Kraemer had not returned her calls in recent days. The company believes most mining sites will be located on roadside reserves, but that provided owners were compensated their land could also be mined. Mantle abandoned a similar project at Deans Marsh following community opposition.Federal opposition leader Tony Abbott weighed into the controversy last week, saying landowners should have the right to stop mining on their land. Yesterday he clarified his position, saying gas companies should respect the rights of farmers of “prime” land.Ian Kraemer did not respond to enquiries from The Courier yesterday.