The West Somerset District Council in southwestern England approved EDF Energy's site preparation work for Hinkley Point C Thursday.
The area has had nuclear power stations for more than 50 years. The nearby Hinkley Point A is now closed, and Hinkley Point B is scheduled to shut down in 2016.
EDF says the power station will help secure Britain's power supply and has supporters like Rupert Cox, head of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, who told The Guardian: "It's an opportunity to kickstart the local economy."
Crispin Aubrey of the Stop Hinkley campaign told the council the plant will leave a "devastated wasteland," and the work EDF has been given permission for is more than "preparatory."
"The extent of the activity ... means it is effectively the beginning of construction of the proposed Hinkley C nuclear power station," he said.
"The real purpose of this application is not to significantly advance the timing of the new plant, it is to destroy all that is precious about the site so that when the main application for the power station is made … it will meet with less opposition."