A swath of swathing changes

From recent raw copy (emphasis is mine):

Taking legislation as a suitable solution, the puzzling bit for the likes of Allen is Defra’s Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS). Introduced to make swathing changes in English municipal waste policy, the introduction is set to help meet targets for reduction of landfill deposited biodegradable waste under Article 5(2) of the EC Landfill Directive.

Swathing changes? I've heard of sweeping changes, or even a swath(e) of changes (the noun having two commonly accepted spellings), but I've never heard of swathing changes.

The Concise OED does not give 'swathing', although it gives the noun 'swath(e)', "a row or line of grass, corn, etc. as it falls when mown or reaped" and the verb 'swathe', "wrap in several layers of fabric". I am assuming the 'swathing' of 'swathing changes' is related to the former rather than the latter. So why no verb 'swath(e)', meaning something along the lines of 'mow' or 'cut a swath(e)'?

"What are you doing, darling?"
"I'm swathing the back garden."

Interestingly, a quick Google search for "swathing changes" results in 58 hits, so it's an uncommon but not unknown little phrase. In comparison, "swathe of changes" gets 1,270 hits and "swath of changes" gets 12,000. "Cut a swathe" gets 28,900 hits and "cut a swath" gets 94,000. So it looks like 'swath' is the more popular spelling.

I like 'swathing changes', but I changed it anyway.

No comments: