THE end of the 15-month battle to get the Ensus biorefinery at Wilton, on Teesside back up and running is a major boost for the region's chemical process industry.

Its was scandalous that US importers were able to exploit a loophole in EU law that allowed them avoid tariffs and flood the UK market with cut price biofuels.

The move rendered the Teesside plant uneconomical and left its 100 workers in limbo.

Hats off to Lib Dem Redcar MP Ian Swales and Euro MP Fiona Hall for getting the loophole closed that will lead to the £300m plant returning to production in the coming weeks.

Ensus bosses, local councillors and residents also played a key role in the campaign.

Getting the support of local people will have pleased the company which angered some nearby residents when the plant started operations two and half years ago. The giant chimney stacks belched out a foul smelling by-product that sparked a flurry of complaints. Ensus has spent millions of pounds to solve the emissions problems. Let's hope that after a series of false starts the plant, which is the biggest of its kind in Europe, can look forward to the sweet smell of success.

Looming A level results will ensure that countless students and teachers across the region are set for a sleepless night tonight.

For many youngsters it will be a defining moment in their lives.

For those that don't go on to further education an apprenticeship has become an increasingly attractive alternative.

Almost every engineering company I talk to says it is desperate for talented young people to join the ranks.

Fears of a skill shortage, particularly in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, chemical process and IT, prompted the government to say it was determined to improve the quality of apprenticeships and increase intake numbers.

On the surface things appear to be going in the right direction. Nationally, the total number of apprenticeships has increased by about a third under since to coalition came to power. But, dig deeper and some worrying trends emerge.

The latest government figures show almost 600 fewer 16-18 year olds in this region started apprenticeships in the academic year to April. Of the 55,700 apprenticeship starts across the UK in that period, almost three quarters were aged 25 or over. There is nothing wrong with that. Apprenticeships can enhance the skills of mature workers as well as give rookies a start. But, the government's apprenticeship drive has coincided with its abolition of the Train to Gain scheme, which was the traditional option for work-based training among the 25+ age group. There are fears that the scheme's demise and the hike in adult apprentices is more than coincidence.

The Northern Echo's Foundation For Jobs campaign, run in association with some of Darlington's leading firms and the Borough Council, is one of the many examples were local youngsters are being given start on the careers ladder. The government needs to make a similar commitment to ensure our employers have the skilled workforce to compete globally.