Re: Hang on
"I thought that there was this massive ITER project that was supposed to demonstrate that fusion was possible."
We demonstrated fusion was possible a long time ago. The question is how to use it to produce power in an economic way. There are many different ideas for how to do that. ITER is the biggest attempt to do so using a tokamak. NIF has been looking at inertial confinement fusion. There are several operating stellerators and spherical tokammaks. The Farnsworth fusor has always been popular with some people, but has struggled to get funding. Plus a whole pile more that have been proposed and/or tested at various times to varying degrees.
This is how science and technology works. Until you've actually tried different ways of doing things, you don't know which is going to be the best, or even which are possible. Just because ITER is being built, that doesn't mean no-one else is allowed to try anything related to fusion. Most people think that tokamaks are the most likely way to give a route to commercial fusion, so that's why it has such a big project aimed at it. But there are plenty of other methods that may well also be viable. And given how far behind schedule and over budget ITER is, there are a growing number of people starting to think that maybe trying out a bunch of smaller, faster projects might be a better way of doing things - even if they don't pay off in the end, we'll likely have results before ITER is even finished, at a fraction of the cost.
Edit: As for the UK aspect, Culham is one of the foremost fusion centres on the planet, and JET and MAST are two of the most successful experiments. If you're going to build a new fusion experiment, this is always going to be among the first choices for location. Obviously I can't guarantee there's no pork involved, but there's really nothing obviously suspicious about it. It's about as surprising as an announcement that a new particle accelerator will be built at CERN; sure, there are other places you could build one, but no-one should be surprised about it happening there.